There are two master’s degrees available in the School of Music, one with a major in music leading to the master of music degree, the other with a major in music education leading to the master of music education degree. Emphasis areas in the Master of Music degree are: Performance, Piano Accompanying, Conducting, Music History and Literature, Theory, and Woodwind Performance and Pedagogy.
Regular admission procedures governing graduate entrance into The University of Southern Mississippi will be required. Details can be found in another section of this Bulletin.
Admission Requirements: Master’s Degrees
In addition to acceptable grades and test scores, successful applicants to the master’s program have an appropriate baccalaureate degree with a major in music, an acceptable candidacy audition (for performance degrees), strong letters of recommendation, and/or writing samples. Letters of recommendation should be from persons qualified to assess the applicant’s readiness for graduate study and should be sent to the School of Music.
Members of all underrepresented groups are strongly encouraged to apply. Acceptance to the School of Music requires students to meet expectations beyond these requirements; see “Degree Candidacy.”
Students who are unable to meet regular admission standards may be considered for conditional admission.
The Graduate Record Examination is required for both conditional and regular admission.
Degree Candidacy: Master’s Degrees
Degree Candidacy: A maximum of nine (9) hours of graduate work earned before one has gained admission to the School of Music can be applied toward a degree. To gain degree candidacy (i.e., admission), one must:
- take Diagnostic Entrance Examinations the Friday before school begins;
- pass a candidacy audition (master of music degrees only) during the first term of full-time residence or before completing nine (9) hours of coursework;
- pass all special examinations (see specific areas in which the degree may be earned);
- consult with the School of Music director of Graduate Studies, have an advisory committee appointed. This process must be completed before nine (9) hours have been earned;
- complete at least nine (9) hours of graduate coursework relevant to one’s degree plan with a cumulative grade point average of 3.0;
- complete a degree plan, approved by the advisory committee and the director of Graduate Studies, before earning nine (9) semester hours. If the degree plan is not on file with the coordinator before that point, credit hours earned above nine (9) semester hours will not be counted toward the degree.
Students who have not done the above will be asked to withdraw from the graduate music program.
Diagnostic Examinations and Auditions: Master’s Degrees
Before the first term of full-time enrollment, all graduate students must take diagnostic examinations in music theory and in music history. Students who do not pass the theory diagnostic exam must enroll in MUS 620 - Music Theory Survey . Students who do not pass the history diagnostic exam must enroll in MUS 630 - Music History Survey . MUS 620 and MUS 630 must be taken in the first semester of graduate work. Exceptions to this requirement may be granted and will be considered on a case-by-case basis. A student with deficiencies may be required to take additional course work beyond the minimum required in the degree program.
Entrance auditions are required for the following degrees: Performance, Piano Accompanying, Conducting, and Woodwind Performance and Pedagogy.
The master of music in music history and literature requires a special examination to demonstrate the ability to translate writing excerpts in at least one foreign language (French, German, Italian, or Spanish) and the submission of a research paper, preferably about music.
The master of music in theory requires the submission of an analysis/research paper in music theory.
All graduate students should consult the director of Graduate Studies for current, specific policies governing the advisement of students, the presentation of recitals, and the administration of comprehensive examinations.
Ensemble Participation: Master’s Degrees
All full-time master’s-level students pursuing a master's in music are required to participate in a major ensemble during each term of residence. A maximum of two (2) hours of graduate credit earned from ensemble work may be counted toward the degree. The ensemble in which one participates will be determined by the student’s major applied area and area of interest.
Jury Requirements/Final Examinations: Master’s Degrees
Students who are enrolled in MUP private lessons in their principal applied area and who are seeking the master of music degree (with emphasis in Performance, Piano Accompanying, or Woodwind Performance and Pedagogy) must perform a jury for the appropriate applied faculty. All others enrolled in MUP private lessons must perform a final examination for the applied teacher. At the finish of each semester and summer term, the applied teacher must complete a Final Jury/Examination Form for each student and file it with the graduate adviser. Students enrolled in applied music who do not take a final examination or a jury will receive the grade “I” or “F.” All grades of I must be completed by the end of the next semester (excluding summer term). See Grading System in this Bulletin.
The applied teacher must record and submit any exception to this policy to the graduate coordinator; signatures of all appropriate area faculty must be included on this form.
Plan of Study. Students must submit their signed, official Plan of Study Form to the Graduate School by the end of the first semester they are enrolled. The Plan of Study Forms are available at www.usm.edu/graduateschool/planofstudy.php - click on the "Plans of Study" link.
Comprehensive Examinations: Master’s Degrees
Comprehensive examinations are required for all master’s degrees.
The test will be prepared by the student’s graduate advisory committee; it will cover the area of the major field. As a general rule, the comprehensive examination will be written.
The School of Music master’s comprehensive examinations are offered each semester at the same time:
||third Saturday in November
||third Saturday in April
||third Saturday in July
A student who fails the comprehensive examination may repeat the exam once; the test must be repeated within one year of the first comprehensive examination. A student who fails the exam a second time will not be allowed to continue as a candidate for the master's degree.
During the first term of full-time residence or before nine (9) hours of graduate credit have been earned, the student and the student’s major professor select those faculty who will serve as the student’s advisory committee. The committee must include three members: 1) the major prfoessor, 2) another professor from the major area, 3) a representative from music theory or music history. Changes to this formula must be pre-approved by the School of Music director.
The major professor and the student shall develop a degree plan. In those cases where a student is required to take additional coursework beyond the minimum required by the degree, the advisory committee will counsel the student and plan the program of studies.
This committee will submit questions for the comprehensive examination and grade it.
The advisory committee will approve the recital repertoire, will attend the recital, and will grade the performance as satisfactory (S) or unsatisfactory (U); this grade, indicating the majority opinion of the advisory committee, must be recorded on the recital program and submitted to the graduate coordinator. Should a recital be judged unsatisfactory by a majority of the committee, another recital, at a date determined by the advisory committee, must take place. Should a recital be canceled or postponed until a succeeding semester, the recital will be graded “E” (course in progress). A student who receives two grades of unsatisfactory in meeting degree recital requirements. will not be allowed to continue as a candidate for the master's degree.
Before scheduling a recital, the student must ascertain that all members of the advisory committee can attend. At least 14 days before the recital, the student must issue a written or emailed invitation to each member of his or her committee.
All students must audition for an appropriate faculty jury. This audition must be deemed satisfactory before one can be declared a candidate for the master’s degree (i.e., before one completes nine (9) hours of graduate work; see Degree Candidacy ). Early auditions are encouraged. At least 18 hours of coursework must be at the 600 level or higher. A 3.0 GPA is required for graduation.
String and Woodwind Performance: For those majoring in string and woodwind performance, the audition must be at least 30 minutes in length and must include three works of contrasting style, preferably representing three different periods in music.
Brass Performance: For those majoring in brass performance a recording will not suffice; the candidacy audition must be a full recital for the brass faculty.
Percussion Performance: For those majoring in percussion performance, the applicant should demonstrate proficiency on timpani and mallet keyboards and should include a multiple-percussion performance.
Piano Performance: For those majoring in piano performance, the audition must be memorized, be at least 30 minutes in length, and be performed before the piano faculty; it must include works from at least three different periods in music (e.g., Baroque, Classical, Romantic, Impressionist, or Contemporary).
Voice Performance: A recording will satisfy preliminary expectations, but before completing nine (9) hours of graduate work, the student must also sing for a faculty committee and fulfill the requirements below.
Voice performance majors must demonstrate, by audition (1) advanced vocal technique; (2) good diction in Italian, French, German, and English; and (3) good vocal quality and musicianship. The repertoire must be memorized and include (1) an aria from opera or oratorio; (2) a 17th- or 18th-century Italian song or aria; (3) a German Lied; (4) a French Mélodie; and (5) a song in English.
Further, the student’s transcript(s) must show grades of C or better in two years of foreign language (any combination of two of the following: German, French, and Italian) and at least one course in diction for singers. Students lacking these will be required to pass these courses in addition to the requirements for the degree. In lieu of coursework, satisfactory performance on language exams, administered by the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures, is acceptable.
Specific areas in which this degree may be earned are: